Category Archives: Geology

Early Morning At Roaring Mountain

An early autumn morning listening to the low hiss of Roaring Mountain fumeroles, Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming)

This shot was captured on my last day in the park. Actually, I was heading out and back to Bozeman to meet up with some friends, but I was loath to leave the park. I could have stayed there for another week and been happy.

Roaring Mountain doesn’t really roar. Instead, it has a low hiss that is sometimes difficult to hear – especially as cars passed by on the road behind me. All those spots where you see steam issuing forth are from fumeroles – openings that emit steam and other gases.

If you ever visit this national park, take a moment to fathom that you are standing upon a volcanically active (hydrothermally active) landscape. The crust is not quite as thick as you think it might be, which is why it’s good to obey the signs that say “Stay On Trail.”

2022 marks Yellowstone National Park’s 150th birthday. I’m going to try and be there at some point in time to celebrate that year with the park.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Travel and Photography, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

Searching For Glaciers In The National Park System

Athabasca Glacier, Jasper National Park, Canada

A few weeks ago, my editor asked me to write an article about being able to see glaciers in national parks. So, I did. It’s been published in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler. Click on the image to read the article.

As for the image, this is one of the first things you see when you cross the border from Banff National Park into Jasper National Park. You can even buy a ticket to go on a sort of bus kitted out with big honkin’ snow tires and ride out to, and walk onto, the glacier. My parents did it decades ago, and I wish I would have done the same thing, in retrospect. Maybe someday, when Canada lets us back in, I’ll take a little drive back into Jasper National Park and walk on that glacier.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, glaciers, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Travel

Fun Fact Friday: Big Bend Geology

It’s #FunFactFriday so I thought I’d write about the geology seen in Big Bend National Park (Texas). The Chisos Mountains (part of which you see in the image above) are volcanic in origin. One of those volcanic things you’ll see while driving the road through the park are intrusive dikes. Igneous means the rock is volcanic in origin. Dikes are igneous, and they are called “intrusive” because the magma intrudes upon and into the existing rock layers above it. You can see a long stretch of dikes exposed and sticking up out of the ground in this shot. The rocks around the dikes eroded away, leaving those flat-looking walls of rock, sort of like a zig-zaggy-edged rock fence running over the hillsides and up into the mountain flanks.

I’m looking through past Big Bend (as well as other parks) images to see if there are shots I have not edited, or – at the time – didn’t do as good a job of editing. I honestly can’t remember if I ever posted this image or not, back in 2013 (can it be 7 years ago??) captured during my December visit to this national park in southwest Texas. It was my first (out of four) trips there.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Big Bend National Park, Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Texas, Travel

What’s The Story, Morning Glory?

Morning Glory Pool on an August summer day back in 2018
Morning Glory Pool on a snowy autumn day in October of 2019

On this Trivia Tuesday, did you know that you could once actually drive up to view Morning Glory Pool in Yellowstone National Park, instead of the 1.5-mile walk you take now? You can read about this and other interesting facts about this unique hot spring in today’s edition of the National Parks Traveler.

To read the story, click on either of the images above.

Thanks to people, this pool has changed its colors due to all the trash and coins folks have thrown into the water. Just a reminder: none of those colorful hot springs are wishing wells or trash cans, folks. They are unique, rare, and delicate geologic features that deserve our wonder, respect, and appreciation, not rocks, kleenex, snack wrappers, and coins.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under 5DSR, Canon, Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L III, Canon Lens, Geology, National Parks, National Parks Traveler, Photography, Trivia Tuesday, Yellowstone National Park

It’s Fun Fact Friday 5-8-2020!

Heart Spring

Heart Spring, Upper Geyser Basin, temperature > 190 degrees Fahrenheit

Belgian Pool

Belgian Pool, Upper Geyser Basin, temperature ~ >150 degrees Fahrenheit

Did you know that the colors of the beautiful hot springs you see at Yellowstone National Park indicate the water temperature? Make no mistake, you do NOT want to soak in any of these after a long day hiking. Rule of thumb: the bluer the H2O, the hotter it is. And the orange, yellow, and brown colors you see ringing the springs and leading away from them are thermophilic (heat loving) bacteria.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

 

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Filed under Canon, Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Yellowstone National Park

Fun Fact Friday 4-24-2020

Black Sand Basin Landscape

“Bobby socks” around Opalescent Pool in Black Sand Basin, Yellowstone National Park

"Bobby Socks" At Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail

“Bobby socks” along the Fountain Paint Pots Nature Trail, Yellowstone National Park

Hey folks, it’s Fun Fact Friday!

If you’ve ever visited Yellowstone National Park, you’ve seen these dead, desolate trees with the white rings around their bases. Those are called “Bobby socks” and are formed when the trees absorb the silica (natural glass) from the thermal waters. This, of course, kills the trees and “freezes” them to keep them standing.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Canon, Canon Lens, Fun Fact Friday, Geology, National Parks, Photography, Travel, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park

It’s Trivia Tuesday, 3-31-2020

Sheep Rock And John Day River On An Overcast DayThe Rocks Of Sheep Rock

According to the NPS, Sheep Rock (that pointy-peaked mountain), in the Sheep Rock Unit of John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, gets its name from the bighorn sheep that once populated its slopes. At the top of Sheep Rock is the Picture Gorge Basalt. That brown line across the middle part of the mountain is the Picture Gorge Ignimbrite (pumice and volcanic tuff). This ignimbrite makes a nice marker bed by which geologists can place and date geologic events. The green soils you see in the second image are colored by the mineral celadonite. Celadonite comes from the French word for “sea green.”

And now you know.

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

 

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Filed under 5DS, Canon, Geology, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Monuments, Oregon, Photography, Travel, Trivia Tuesday

Angular Unconformity Along OR Hwy 207 To Mitchell

Angular Unconformity

I love geology. I went to school to study it. So when I travel, I like to read about the geology of the places I visit and the roads I travel. In hindsight, I wish, now, that I’d have bought and looked through the Roadside Geology of Oregon, by Marli B. Miller *before* rather than after I’d driven to John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. At least, then, I would have been able to follow the mile markers and understood what I was seeing.

Anyway, I’d stopped here because I happened to turn my head to look at the scenery right when my car was passing by these awesomly-colored outcroppings. Turns out, my inner geology radar must have been working intuitively. What you see here is called an angular “unconformity.” An angular unconformity is – in easy terms – when you see tilted beds (the green and reddish outcropping of beds) overlain by straight beds (the red-brown lines of columnar basalts you see above. It shows there is a gap in the geologic time record. So, if you are following a series of formations along a geographic distance, you might suddenly see that one formation or sediment layer of that formation is totally missing from the order of deposition, and all you see is this contact line dividing angular tilting beds from straight layers above. Any of this make sense? If not, then just admire the pretty landscape.

This image was captured using my new Sony Alpha a7r IV and 24-105mm lens. I am loving this camera!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Geology, HDR, Landscape, Oregon, Photography, Sony Alpha a7r IV, Travel

It’s Fun Fact Friday, 3-27-2020!

Painted Hills GeologyPainted Hill Badlands And Sutton MountainsRed BedTwo Red Beds

It’s Fun Fact Friday! Here’s some interesting facts for you if you happen to visit John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon.

In the first photo, that’s the first hill you’ll see that will get your attention as you drive past the sign welcoming you to the Painted Hills Unit. The top of this hill is capped with a volcanic tuff called the Picture Gorge Ignimbrite. This tuff is 28.7 MILLION years old.

The other images show other sides to this same hill as you drive further along the gravel road into the Painted Hills Unit. The red and tan soils are called paleosols, and the red paleosols are indicative of a warmer, wet, tropical to subtropical climate, while the tan soils represent a cooler, drier, more temperate climate.

Those blue-ish shadowed mountains in the background of a couple of the images are the Sutton Mountains.

And now you know!

Copyright Rebecca L. Latson, all rights reserved.

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Filed under Fun Fact Friday, Geology, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, National Parks, Oregon, Photography, Travel

Trivia Tuesday

Blue Star Pool

Blue Star Pool on a chilly autumn morning, Yellowstone National Park

It’s Trivia Tuesday,¬†folks! Here’s one from Janet Spencer’s “Yellowstone Trivia”: One ranger set out to remove the pennies from Upper Geyser Basin’s Blue Star Pool. After 15 minutes of work, he removed 700 pennies. That means 700 people figured “just one penny” wouldn’t hurt.

As a National Park placard says near another hot spring in Yellowstone National Park: “Thermal features are not trash cans or wishing wells – they are among earth’s rarest geologic treasures …”

Do your part, don’t litter, pack out what you pack in, and report any vandalism to a park ranger.

 

 

 

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Filed under autumn, Geology, National Parks, Seasons, Travel, Trivia Tuesday, Wyoming, Yellowstone National Park